Las Vegas Sun

April 21, 2015

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Letter to the editor:

Some don’t know how good we have it

Lately, I’ve been seeing more and more letters to the editor regarding the perception that Americans are losing their freedoms, and I have seen the word tyranny used more than once. People who think we are living under tyranny today need to study the laws of yesterday.

I have spent a substantial portion of my 64 years studying American history, mainly the westward migration and frontier towns. When towns like Dodge City, Tombstone and Deadwood were incorporated, some of the first laws put on the books were gun laws. Upon entering town, you had to drop your guns off with the local law enforcement official. The guns were returned when you left. A while back, I saw a man riding a motorcycle wearing a bathing suit and a rifle slung across his shoulder. If he rode his horse into Dodge City wearing that ensemble, he would have been thrown in jail. This behavior would have never been tolerated in the 1800s. Today, my husband could put on a red, white and blue bikini, walk down Las Vegas Boulevard with two pistols strapped to his hips and it would be perfectly legal. Nevada is an open carry state.

Before the 1967 Supreme Court case, “Loving v. Virginia”, people were imprisoned for engaging in miscegenation. Today, consenting adults can marry and have sex with whomever they choose, regardless of skin color.

Gay people have been discriminated against throughout this nation’s history to the point where most had to hide their sexual orientation. They were beaten and in some cases killed. Today they can marry and in many states enjoy domestic partnership rights. They can also serve in the military and not live in fear of being found out.

Today, theft is punished with a slap on the wrist and probation. It wasn’t too long ago you could be hanged for stealing a horse or a cow. Slaves were hanged for leaving their owner’s property.

We enjoy freedoms today that would’ve been unfathomable to prior generations.

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  1. Most know how good they have it, BUT that doesn't mean they don't and can't have it better. There is always one more thing that can be done to make it better. When that is done, another, and then another and so on. It's called progress. That's the reason in large part [progress] we don't use Dodge, Tombstone, and Deadwood as the standards for modern day social life and societal living.

    Carmine D

  2. We have experienced a great expansion of our freedoms in the past 50 years. But that does not mean we should be complacent and ignore recent attempts to reverse some of our gains. I refer specifically to attempts to suppress the voting rights of certain demographic groups and limit women's reproductive choices. We ignore these attempts at our peril.

  3. Let's see, did those entering Dodge City have to register their guns, get a license, go to school in order to carry them? Were their horses wearing license plates, did the rider have a "drivers" license and insurance? Don't believe so. Today, all of those things are "required." I do not necessarily disagree with that, but how does that square with the ladies nonsensical letter? Try opening a business today and the hoops you will have to run through and the red tape you will encounter would have made old-timers blanch. How does that square with the ladies nonsensical letter. Want to drink a soda in a container larger than 16 oz in NYC? Sorry, you're out of luck. It's against the law. Want to smoke in the privacy of your own home? Oops, that's a right soon to be forbidden. Give me a break. We've come a long way in both freeing the slaves and putting chains on them, as well. Seems like for every new "freedom" granted, there have been ten laws restricting them put on the books.

  4. "Today, consenting adults can marry and have sex with whomever they choose, regardless of skin color."

    Smith -- along with other issues you stuck your head in the sand for, you're wrong on this one. The Nevada Constitution expressly forbids any non-heterosexual marriages.

    "Let's see, did those entering Dodge City. . . . ."

    lvfacts -- excellent post!

    "Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add 'within the limits of the law' because law is often but the tyrant's will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual." -- Thomas Jefferson, letter to Isaac H Tiffany (1819)

  5. When I read the delineation of grievances against His Majesty's Government and against King George contained in the Declaration of independence and compare them against the pathetic sniveling promulgated by the contemporary right, the former appears to be considerably better thought out. Perhaps the Jerry Finks of the world should have their own reality television show....Complainers of America!

  6. Lvfacts101 (Jerry Fink) asks (at 8:23 a.m.) "Let's see, did those entering Dodge City have to register their guns, get a license, go to school in order to carry them?"

    Nope. ALL they had to do was to take them off and turn them in for the local "police" to hold for the duration of their stay. They could get their guns again only on their way out of town. Why don't we do the same in the U.S., or just in Nevada? All guns entering must be turned in to the local "police" to be held until their owners cross the border, outbound, when they will be returned.

  7. What Ms Smith, and commentators, seem to ignore is the point at which freedoms are restricted. In the 1950s black entertainers visiting Las Vegas or Reno could not eat in the same establishments to which their presence attracted patrons. HOWEVER - in a very few hours they were home in California where they had MUCH greater freedom in choosing eating places. Miscegenation was illegal in some states. It was perfectly legal elsewhere. I'm willing to bet that at least ONE of the laws allowing the hanging of a slave who left the plantation is still on the books. But with slavery illegal in the US (at least officially) what legal effect does that have?

    Now, however, the restriction of freedoms is being concentrated. It's moved from the level of the town to the county, from the county to the state, from the state to the national. Don't like NSA tracking your cell phone calls and e-mails? Just where are you going to go, WORLDWIDE, to avoid it?

  8. killer... Mr. Jefferson was a complete hypocrite. For years he argued against slavery and owned many slaves himself. Additionally he went bust and was nearly destitute at the end of his life.

    The frontier towns are a decent example of Americana because people would go to these towns, start a business, and some would make it. In the big cities, according to the 1870 census, people worked 275 days a year for about $120 a year. Job-related deaths were very common. People that lived in cities suffered a much more oppressive environment than people in the frontier towns. People working in cities didn't have money for guns, gambling and other forms of entertainment so restrictions weren't necessary. People died young and penniless.

    Infectious disease was rampant and 30% of people born in those days didn't make it to their 10th birthday.

    Blogging is a classic example of how far this country has come in terms of freedom. Much of what is said on the sites would've gotten people hanged or shot a couple hundred years ago.

    A lot of people blab about how oppressive America is. They don't seem to be leaving. Jerry Fink is the classic example. Thousands of negative posts and he is still going strong.

  9. "killer... Mr. Jefferson was a complete hypocrite."

    zippert -- opinions vary.

    "I think this is the most extraordinary collection of talent and of human knowledge that has ever been gathered together at the White House -- with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone." -- President John F. Kennedy at an April 29, 1962 dinner honoring 49 Nobel Laureates, from "Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: John F. Kennedy, 1962," p. 347

  10. Ain't "freedom" grand? For the left - not so much - when you disagree with their Commie-lite agenda. They have no compunction about stifling any and all dissent and, as FDR did, would open concentration camps for those they were afraid of. We are fortunate some guys that post here aren't in charge. They'd open gulags and death camps just as their forebearers in the Soviet Union and Germany did.